Plastic waste in our oceans is a fast-growing global problem. Every year, around 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in oceans. To put that into perspective, it’s the equivalent of emptying a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
Of that amount, 660 thousand tonnes are created by Aussies – each year. Shocking? Yes. But not only are our oceans choking on plastic, it’s killing millions of animals every year – from birds to fish and other marine organisms. In fact, almost 700 species, including endangered ones, have been affected by plastics.
Is there a solution?
There is, albeit a slow one, and it involves re-education – not just for kids, but for adults as well. We all know about the importance of reducing greenhouse gases, and using wind and solar power. We’ve heard so much about carbon footprints and offsetting carbon emissions. It’s taken years. But the awareness is finally there.
The first step in diminishing plastic waste is to reduce single-use plastics. That means making intelligent choices, like reusable shopping bags. Avoiding trays of fruit or vegetables covered with plastic. Choosing not to buy plastic bottles or straws. Countless websites have great information about reducing plastic waste, such as Marine Conservation, Solar Impulse and Plastic Oceans.
Teach kids to recycle
Now it’s time to get awareness of the plastic problem into our kids’ minds, so they learn that it’s not smart to throw away their rubbish – plastic or otherwise.
If little kids can learn how to clean their hands properly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they can be taught to recycle.
So it all starts with parents teaching their kids how to responsibly dispose of rubbish, and in particular, plastic waste. But there’s not much point in telling Justin or Sally not to throw a plastic cup or bottle on the beach if they see a parent doing it. Be the example. Walk the recycling talk. There are countless examples of the damage plastics do to our oceans, to our fish and birds. It’s often not enough to say “Don’t do that or this.” Show examples that hit the problem home.
There are some very smart sayings that help kids remember. ‘Rethink. Refill.’ encourages kids to refill their drink bottles. ‘Recycle the present. Save the future.’ And this: “It’s only one straw” said 8 billion people.
Over to schools
When kids start school, the focus on recycling should be part of every day. Reinforcing the message that started at home makes it stronger, especially when authority figures like teachers discuss the issues and there are consequences if kids don’t dispose of their rubbish in the correct way. In fact, school kids should learn that they can be agents of change – taking on the problem from an emotional perspective. Wanting a clean, green environment.
Reinforce the message
As kids get older and go to university or a TAFE college, the recycling message needs to be reinforced, so it’s ingrained into their way of life. Choosing not to buy single-use plastic. Disposing of any plastic waste carefully. Recycling wherever possible. Respecting the environment. Doing what it takes to make a difference. And sharing the message with peers, family and friends.
Buy recycled products
You would be amazed at the products you can buy that are made from recycled-plastic. From active wear to dog collars, mats and rugs, shoes, backpacks, surf boards, decking and fencing, and outdoor school furniture.
Buying recycled products actively supports a circular economy, that increases the amount of resources that circle around.
The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So take the first step to reduce plastic waste and Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Talk to us about how your school can make a difference with recycled-plastic outdoor furniture. Be the solution.